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York City Knights new boy Pat Smith revelling in switch to hometown club
PAT SMITH cannot wait to get going with home-town club York City Knights – and finally team up with his little brother.
Smith is joining from Sheffield Eagles having struggled to nail down a first-team berth with the Kingstone Press Championship champions, who retained their crown yesterday with a superb comeback victory over surprise play-off package Batley in the Grand Final at Leigh.
The Knights’ relegation means he will begin 2014 in Championship One – where he ended 2013 during a loan spell with Gloucestershire All Golds – but he is optimistic he and brother Ed can help Gary Thornton’s men bounce straight back up to rugby league’s second tier.
The half-back cum hooker, pictured, said: “I didn’t get in the (Eagles) team this year after a decent couple of years. It hasn’t been much fun and I felt it was time to move on.
“I’m very happy to be going to York. My brother’s there and I’m looking forward to joining up with him. I’ve heard good things about Gary Thornton and being from York I know few people at the club. I’m looking forward to earning a regular spot.”
Smith, a product of New Earswick All Blacks ARLC, was on junior terms at Hull FC before moving to Sheffield Hallam University three years ago and signing for the Eagles.
He was a substitute in the 2011 Grand Final loss to Featherstone.
However, he did not make the cut 12 months later when Mark Aston’s Steel City outfit toppled Rovers to lift the crown. He has made 24 appearances in total, 17 as sub, scoring two tries, but only three of those have come this year, in which he instead played 13 times at the All Golds during a three-month loan.
“It’s been good to get minutes and play rugby,” he said. “It was frustrating not playing at Sheffield but I’ve been playing every week. It’s better than banging your head against the wall every week trying to get into the team.
“Although we haven’t seen eye to eye over selection this season, I’ve learned a lot from Mark Aston.
“There are some great guys at the club and I’ve played in a Grand Final, but it’s time to move on.”
Sheffield became the first team to win back-to-back Championship crowns yesterday, as John Kear’s Bulldogs were unable to pull off a third play-off surprise following drop-goal wins over Leigh and table-toppers Featherstone.
Ex-Knights half-back Gareth Moore had given Batley the lead with a penalty and he added a touchline conversion after Johnny Campbell flew home. Two more Moore penalties made it 12-0 at half-time.
A 40-20 before the hour mark by Dom Brambani gave Sheffield a sniff and Menzie Yere created space for a Scott Turner try in the corner to give the Eagles hope.
The game then began to change as Aston’s men – featuring ex-Knights Matt Garside and Duane Straugheir – slowly moved up the gears. A smashing Yere tackle caused Campbell to knock on in the red zone, and Yere ended the next set by touching the ball down.
The Eagles then drew level as Turner caught Pat Walker’s kick, dived and touched down, and the comeback was complete as Quentin Laula-Togagae scored a superb solo try, Brambani goaling. Pat Walker added a drop goal.
In the Championship One showdown, a late long-range try by Wayne English capped a 32-18 victory for Rochdale over Oldham.
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